The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Seen Any of THESE Lately?

I'm sick to DEATH of political ads right now. Not one of them positive. Ugh! At least they could make them funny...

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Halloween Memories


Hope your night is filled with far more treats than tricks. We'll be taking KID 3 (incidentally, she'll be a mummy this year...I may stick a picture up here if I can later) around to the neighbors' houses to beg for candy. The older two have plans to stay home and pass out candy (if we get any visitors this year).

Wanted to share some Halloween memories, though. Hey. What can I say? It's an excuse to drag out pictures of my kids, and I don't need much goading to do that. So, here they are in no particular order.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Spooky (and not so spooky) Links

Ran across a couple of timely links (for the upcoming holiday) and wanted to share them. Of course, then (as these things sometimes do) it sort of snowballed on me and I had a BUNCH of stuff to share, so now it's kinda turned into a "link dump"

Hope you find something of interest!


Here's a link to 13 Haunted Houses That Will Make You Wet Your Pants. (Pick up a package of Depends before you go and avoid the embarrassment.)

The Bone Idol Game is a creative outlet to let you invent all kinds of bone critters. Kinda fun. Definitely seasonally apt.

You may not have time to take advantage of this Costume Idea, but I had to share it. Maybe if you work on it all weekend...

My oldest daughter plans to be a Jedi this year (her sister is making her robe for her). I just hope I don't see her next year on the Parade of Unfortunate Star Wars Costumes.

And if you're carving Jack-O-Lanterns, here's instructions to help you make yours a Captain Jack-O-Lantern. That's right. A pirate pumpkin!


A database for your personal library, this Virtual Book Shelf is a great way to invite the world into your reading room.

I'm waiting for Mike Norton to test drive this for me, but news is that Firefox 2 Ready for download.

You've probably already seen it at this point (the story's been out for over a week), but apparently Short People got no reason to live.

Finally, a little something for the conservatives who think being gay is not natural. Animal homosexuality exposed!

Don't do this at home! Here are 10 Useless or Even Dangerous First Aid Myths.

The Art of Travis A. Louie is a more than a little freaky, but definitely fun.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Highlander will tell you that I'm definitely one in a million. Now there's proof. I'm the only person in the entire U.S. with my name. Kinda cool. Check yours. Enter your first and last names, then click on "Search Names" and see how many folks out there have been posing as you.

I found one for Nate!! The highest scoring Scrabble game ever. The winner had an impressive score of 830 points. (365 of them from one word 'quixotry' played on the far right side of the board, hitting not one but TWO Triple Word Score spaces. I'm not worthy.

The obligatory sign-generator is Hairy Mail. Write your message in the back hair of a TREMENDOUSLY hirsuit fella.

One for the Tin-Foil Hat crowd. Here's 'indisputable proof' that Paul McCartney IS dead, based on facial comparison analysis. You tell me. I think I may need a little more tin-foil to make it work.

Today, I've even got one for Mike Norton. Here's an incredibly exhaustive Comic Book Cover Art site. Catalogued by series, there are thousands of covers, including Action Comics #1 from 1938. Pretty cool.

Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work. Wired Magazine asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves. Here's what they came up with in response to this challenge.

I have worked (twice) for a family business. The second time, one that was at the transition point from third to fourth generation. They're not even close to being included on this list of the 100 Oldest Family Businesses, where a Japanese construction firm dates back to 578. That's right. Not 1578, 578.

A little something for Highlander...(he's been known to be pre-occupied with the 80's...;)

And I can't finish up without the ever-obligatory, 'One For Tony Collett'. (Okay, call it a two-fer since I had the costume link above.) Here's a photo shop contest called 'Celebrity Star Wars'. See your favorite celebs as a Star Wars character.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Golly Gee Whiz, I've done alot of these things. Maybe, at some point in the future, I'll just print them all out and call them my Memoirs. It's making coming up with new material tougher and tougher, I'll tell you that. Oh, I keep a running list of possible topics and all, but I may need a little help from you guys if I start repeating myself.

Now, I don't do alot of toilet humor. But my kids will tell you that 'doody' is funny. Since I haven't done any 'doody' stories to date, and since there's been a great lot of shit in my life this week, I thought I'd share one with you. (I started to say that "I'd pop one out for you", but thought better of it...)

Once upon a time, KID 1 was a tiny babe. I realize, since she's going to be turning 18 in about 7 months, that it seems forever ago to some, but I was there and she was a happy, smiling little ball of fun. I promise.

Being the first of my three girls, in many ways, she was my little guinea pig. Certainly cut my mom teeth on her. Funny how much you DON'T know when you have kids...and how quickly you learn.

Like bathtime. I'd always heard that bathtime was this really fun experience. Bubbles and warm water, splashing and playing with toys. Sounds like a good time, anyway.

I was to learn that most babies hate bathtime at first. They have to grow into it. KID 1 was certainly in that group. (That's her on the left, not digging on the bathtime fun.)

I'd turn the heat up (so she wouldn't be cold) and turn the lights down and put soft music on (trying to make a calm situation), and she'd still scream at the top of her little lungs from the time her bottom touched the water until I wrapped her clean pink body in the towel. It was tough. Every time.

Her dad prefers baths to showers and I suggested to him that maybe it would be less traumatic for the baby, if he took her in the bath with him. He wasn't exactly gung ho about the suggestion, but he agreed to give it a try.

Soooooo the next time I was ready to give her a bath, I turned the heat up and turned the lights down and ran a bath for KID 1 and her Daddy. He climbed into the tub and I handed him the baby.

And she didn't scream.

In fact, she cooed.

I left the bathroom to go get her clean diaper and pajamas ready, and before I got back, I heard a blood-curtling scream from the bathroom. My first thought was that the baby had drowned, because the screaming wasn't the baby. It was her father.

As quickly as I could, I made my way to the bathroom to find my (now ex) husband standing in the tub and holding the baby at arms-length. I could see she was breathing and I didn't see any blood. I implored him with my eyes, as to the problem.

"Look! Look what's she's done to me!! Ew! Ew! EWWWW!!!!", and motioned to the water with his head...eyes full of horror. There, in the tub were three tiny turds (no they were not miniature Baby Ruth bars) and some miscellaneous, and the Baron was completely unhinged. Granted, it doesn't sound like the kind of spa I'd be interested in, but I could hardly see the justification for the fuss he was putting on. In fact, I wasn't able to keep from seeing the humor in the situation, as I was laughing so hard my eyes were tearing.

I took the baby and cleaned her up, while he got out of the tub. He stood there and watched me as I got her cleaned up and dressed and then he indicated that he "just couldn't" clean the tub, so I did that, too. When I'd finished cleaning the tub, he showered and when he got out he vowed NEVER to do that again.

She'd only gotten one shot at him, but she took it. Totally pooped on her Dad, giving her mom one of the best belly-laughs ever.

Oh, and by the way, she's much better about baths now. Like so many other things, they do outgrow it.


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Talking the Talk


Flashback Friday! will be a little late, today. But in the interim, I had two recent conversations I wanted to share.

We were having the office "October Birthday's" party yesterday afternoon. (The company's way to celebrate employee birthday's without having to do it individually. Although, in this particular case, there is only one birthday for October, so 25 year old draftsperson, Amelia, got all the love.)

As we do at these events, we start talking about getting older. Someone, I don't recall who, after we'd been discussing this for a bit, said, "You know, everyone didn't have a television set when I was a kid." And that kicked off this exchange...

SOMEONE ELSE: That's right, and when we did finally get our first television set it was in black and white.
THIRD PARTY: And it probably only had three channels.
AMELIA: WOW! Ooooh, and I heard that all the channels used to shut completely off, or something, at like TEN O'CLOCK!!!

Her voice did not remotely mask her awe at this. I badly wanted to remove my shoe and throw it across the table at her. I was, however, able to restrain myself.

Until she noted that Reagan had been president when she was born.

I hate her. But it could explain things...


Last night I called my ex's house. We have some relatively minor drama going on with our oldest daughter related to school and we were trying to work some things out. My middle daughter answered the phone and we had the following exchange...

KID 2: Hello?
ME: Hi, Sweetie! How are you?
KID 2: Hi, Mom! Good, I guess.
ME: Anything exciting at school today?
KID 2: Nah.
ME: Not even with [insert object of Kid 2 crush name here]?
KID 2: MOM!!! He hasn't even had a chance to teach me Magic (the gathering) yet. [NOTE: Kid 2 KNOWS she could get virtually anyone at our house to teach her this game, but she feels it's an opportunity to spend some time with a certain young man doing something that he likes to do and allowing him the opportunity to show off a little. NO IDEA where she gets this stuff...]
ME: Well, we don't have much going on this weekend, if you want to invite him over.
KID 2: OKAY! I'll work on it tomorrow.
ME: Good. Let me know. I need to talk to your Dad. How are things around there today?
KID 2: (whispering) Well....Kid 3 (bitten by a dog less than a week ago) was outside playing with [their pet cat].
ME: In the rain?
KID 2: It's not raining, Mom. (In a classic teenaged condescending tone. But, it had been raining most all day in my world.)
ME: Okay, well what happened?
KID 2: Well, she was playing with the cat and he kind of jumped up at her playfully.
ME: Oh no, did he scratch her?
KID 2: No. But she started screaming and was really upset about it. Dad had to calm her down.
ME: The cat didn't hurt her?
KID 2: No. But you know what that's about.
ME: ::sadly:: Yeah.
KID 2: And I shot dad this kinda harsh look, like "you KNOW that's about the dog bite", and he said, "Don't say anything!", back to me, and shot me this really stern look.
ME: I guess it's already starting. Geez.

See, I've already been accused of lying in wait to make KID 3's injuries/trauma worse than they really are just as soon as I can get her back in my evil clutches. [insert maniacal laugh here, I suppose]

That's right, making my kids feel bad to make myself feel needed (or worse, to find new and inventive ways to create painful drama for myself and my kids...which is never at a shortage, despite my near constant attempts to make it that way...with my ex-husband), that's me all right. That's why they love and respect me as much as they do. I'm not sure how I did it, but I guess I must've gotten a jump start on my nefarious plans before they even got home.

Or, you know, maybe...just maybe...the child...the one I'VE known for nearly seven years and know FAR better than those who would make such baseless claims...could possibly be more traumatized than someone completely unqualified to make such a contemptible accusation might be able to assess. That'd be MY guess anyway.

And while I've got a dog bite story of my own that I'm tempted to post for this week's Flashback Friday!, I don't think I can make myself do it. But there will be SOMEthing up here later (unless Blogger has another scheduled outage or something). No idea what, though, so stay tuned.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Musta Reached the A-List!

Okay, with the mid-terms coming in such a short time, the weirdest thing has been happening to me. My guess is that it's been happening to some of you, too.

On Monday, I noticed a name I hadn't seen before in my email inbox.

Stephen King.

Now, my first thought was that it couldn't be that Stephen King, but, hey, guess what. The internationally acclaimed, best-selling sci-fi author took time out of his busy schedule to drop me a note.

How's that for cool?

Not so cool, you say. Scoffers!

Guess what I found on Tuesday?

On Tuesday, I noticed a name in my email inbox that I hadn't seen there before either.

Al Gore.

Straight up. Al Gore was sending me email. And people think I have no connections.

So, today, I check my inbox when I get back from lunch and I've got a note from Barak Obama. I haven't read it yet. I imagine he's asking my advice on running in 2008. Consequently, I should go ahead and post this and deal with a thoughtful response.

While it'd be entirely unseemly for me to share the contents of these notes, I just wanted to say, it's been a banner week for me on the email. Who will it be tomorrow?????

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Sphygmomanometers Gone Wild!

Well, gang, I'm entirely too busy to post. (Which sucks for me, as I do so love to blabber at you people!) Stuff in my world, with a couple of my kids actually, has me tied up in knots.

Fighting with those who would stand in the way of my daughter's treatment for her recent injury, and I'm CERTAIN that the sphygmomanometer would reflect the damage, as I've been madder than a wet hen for having to work so hard to get BASIC INFORMATION from people who lie to me and tell me that if there's "anything they can do", and then spend hours and hours refusing to...augh...nevermind.

Anyway, things are progressing and I'm hoping to have something more interesting than this crap up here soon! Likely some links.

Thanks for all the support!! Back to the deep breathing exercises and sounds of the ocean...;)

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Musical Meme-Time!

Been a while since I've done one of these, huh? Mike Norton's just shaking his head and wishing his luck had held out just a little longer...

Anyway, I ran across this one and wanted to share it. As it involves the honor system, the vast majority of my readers will be eligible to play! If you're game, here we go.

The object of the game is to see how many song titles you can come up with in five minutes. The catch is that they have to have a color in the title (ie; "Paint it Black").

You should open a Word document and then transfer the information into the comment threads when you're done. List the songs in the comments thread below. No fair googling around or checking out your cd collection to look for something (or peeking at other commenters answers, either). Using your memory only, and timing yourself, how will you do?

I'll wait to post mine, but will say that I got 20.


Get Set.


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The Good, The Bad and The Hideously Ugly...

A busy weekend, for not much going on, but I had wanted to post something (and never got around to it) kind of touching on a good thing and a bad thing from the weekend. And then, last night, before I got to work on it at all, something even worse happened. Hence, the ugly.

Choosing one "good thing" from the weekend would be hard. The Bucs won their game on Sunday afternoon. A nailbiter with an impossible comeback field goal in the last 4 seconds of the game.

And then Highlander and I were both surprised with how much we liked LUCKY # SLEVIN, which we'd rented from the video store on Saturday. Kind of twisty in the plot department (almost always a good thing) and the acting was something else.

Of course, there's also some [explicit sex scene] that was pretty good, but that just isn't for public consumption.

The "good thing" from the weekend that I wanted to touch on was a Fall Festival at Kid 3's school on Friday night. The kids were encouraged to dress up and so we did a little late afternoon pumpkin carving and grabbed an early supper, and then we all headed over to school to see what we could see.

I'm not sure about you guys, but Fall Festivals seem to be a pretty universal way that the PTA earns money around these parts. Standard fare at these events is a Haunted House, bake sales, and various games of chance. So, I dropped about $10 for tickets and all five of us had an enjoyable time. Kid #3 made herself a witch's hand , and jumped (for the four minute max) in an inflatable bouncy they had out back. Highlander and I had a good time watching her, though it did make Highlander nostalgic for a little of that himself.

A photo booth netted us the Polaroid on the left of Kid #3 in all her ninja regalia. (Now, officially, she's going to be a mummy for Halloween this year, but I didn't have the time...or the make her into one before the Fall Festival, so she took advantage of an outfit she already had for the evening.)

Afterwards, we were off to the Cake Walk. Now, without sounding like "food is everything", the Cake Walk is the breakpoint for me at these things. I don't mind plunking down $10 at these things. (In fact, I've been known to plunk down $30-$40 if I'm feeding the fam there, too.) The money goes back into the school and my kids get to take advantage of that, so it's a good thing.


If someone in my party can win a cake at the Cake Walk, it's been a good night for me. Not that I'll eat much of it. Maybe it's just saving a little something in my own budget.

For the uninitiated, the way it works is that there are roughly twenty spaces marked in a circle on the floor. One body per space and the "carnie" starts up the music. A' la "Musical Chairs", everyone begins walking around the circle, and when the music stops, you stop walking and are left to take your chances with the space you land on. Someone draws a number, and the winner is the person standing on the lucky space.

This was Highlander's first ever Cake Walk experience (and he claims he's worldly...HA!) and while he was a little hesitant, it wasn't like I could take "uh uh" for an answer. See, with five of us, our odds of winning a cake are increased rather dramatically when EVERYONE participates in the same round. So, you see, I can't win, if we don't all play (and that includes Highlander).

First round up and Highlander's number is called. Yeah, Baby. That's what I'm talking about! But wait, before we get outta there, Kid #1 and Kid #2 are bringing home the, cake..., too!! So, for my $10 investment, we got a chocolate cake with white icing, some pumpkin cupcakes and a tub of cotton candy (don't ask me how this qualifies as cake, I have no idea). Of course, I was feeling WAY ahead of the curve here!

Bottom line, it was a fun time with the kids.

As for the bad, well, even though we really enjoyed one of the movies we rented, the other one was a new low in lows...

AFTER SUNDOWN was something I let Highlander talk me into. (See how I put it all on him? Crafty, huh?) How bad was it? Abyssmal may come close.

How did I hate it, let me count the ways. It had terrible acting. It had non-existent directing. The make-up guy should be shot, preferably in a double fatality shoot-out with the sound technician. (But, I implore you, PLEASE have ANYONE else film it!) I'm still scratching my head and trying to figure out how someone's Freshman Film Director's 101 mid-term got released! Sadly, it was nowhere NEAR one of those "it's so bad it's entertaining" kind of things, either.

To sum up, P.U.

Which brings us to the "hideously ugly" portion of our show. Highlander and I were playing a little Magic last night and preparing to eat a little dinner, when the phone rang. I answered it, and could not understand a word my youngest daughter was saying on the other end of the line. She was, in a word, hysterical. I could tell they were on a cellphone, but had no idea where they were. Finally, she handed the phone to her father (in whose care she has been since noon on Saturday) and he proceeded to tell me she'd been bitten by a dog.

And my heart sank.

And I tensed up.

And I could hardly find words through my fright and my anger and my worry.

You see, my nearly seven year old has been bitten by a dog in the past. She was only two, but she remembers it. And she's been working through a pretty significant fear of dogs since. Consequently, I'm pretty attuned to how she tenses up and tries to be brave when a dog comes around. She clearly wants to move beyond her fear and, as far as I'm concerned, that's a phenomenal thing for someone her age. But you can watch her and see that it's forced and that she's nervous.

Because of this, I always allow her some room to try to work it out herself while maintaining vigilance to make sure she is not in any danger. If she's brave enough to pet a dog, we pet it together. I'm gonna be right there if that dog makes a move. However "safe" a dog it may be. I DEFINITELY don't leave her alone with a dog, because dogs are animals and no matter how well-trained or "normally well-behaved" they are, they are still animals and there is only so much we can do there. I don't want her to be harmed, but I don't want her to lose the ground she's made conquering her fear over the last FIVE YEARS.

It's not been a little "thing". It's been a life-altering experience for her. For all of us.

So, when I heard "dog bite", the blood left my face. All the progress she's made, gone. Another hit on that same trauma button, and the realization that it may now NEVER leave her. My ex proceeded to follow up "she's been bitten", with "it was an older dog", like that somehow minimized the situation. Then came "there was no puncture", but my eldest daughter said they'd put Neosporin on it. Why, if there was no puncture? Getting information was like pulling teeth. Of course, that's become the way of things between us at this point. And there doesn't seem to be any end in sight there, either.

I realize this was an accident (which seem to be happening with far greater frequency and intensity when they're at their dad's lately), but what I can't understand was why she was alone with the dog in the first place. Why her father wasn't there helping her deal with her issue...making her feel safe. They were at a birthday party for his current girlfriend's daughter. The party was being held at the child's grandparents' house and it was their family pet.

I'm planning to see Kid #3 tonight. To hold her and talk to her and check her arm. Hopefully, it will make us both feel better.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Flashback Friday!

You know what? I've been so lax with these that I was sitting around Thursday afternoon and it kind of hit me that I really needed to do a Flashback Friday!, and I couldn't remember the last time I did one.


That's bad. Although, at least you're not being forced to read them. So that's a good thing, right? Work with me here, people!

This week's vignette is one from my young and carefree days. Yep. Exaaaaactly that long ago. And it's about my uncanny ability to tell the future! Before you start in on me, it doesn't always work.

Our story begins with me and my ex (the Baron) spending a summer day on a motorcycle ride. I was 21 at the time and we had been imbibing on a little marijuana (which I was known to do back then) that day. It was gorgeous outside and Baron and I were enjoying the day.

We'd been riding for a bit when he asked me if I'd ever been to Garden Court. At the time, the property was owned by the local university and it was home to a mansion and a lovely garden. As I hadn't been there, and as he'd wanted to share it with me, we motored on over on the old Kawasaki he bought shortly after he and I started dating.

When we arrived, we parked the bike and were going to walk around the garden and check it out. After all, it was a lovely day.

Upon entering the garden, there was a brick half wall that surrounded the entire area. To the left, there was a colonnade and beyond that a fountain. Wait. Here's a link. You can see, for yourself, how lovely it is. Just take a look. It's much more impressive than my yard.

As we walked around the garden looking at the various horticulture and fountains, we chatted. There weren't very many people at all visiting the gardens, but still, it seemed all very normal, even given my state. And then...

As we neared the half wall at the far right of the property, someone leapt from behind a bush. Now, I don't use the word 'leapt' with any editorial license at all, the boy sprang, almost cartoonishly, from behind the bush. It was enough to stop Baron and I in our tracks. It would have done so had we not known the boy (which as circumstances played out, we did), but we were most assuredly taken aback by the action. We looked at each other and then at Charlie. Bug-eyed, terror-stricken, red-faced, Charlie.

Charlie was a friend of Baron's. He'd been one of his closest friends for half his life at that point. He, along with Roy (the carpenter), Alphie (the former navy seaman...and yes, there were many, many jokes), and Mack (the student), made up the core group of Baron's closest friends. They were, for the most part, a pretty good bunch of guys. Some of them may feature on another Flashback Friday! sometime in the future...

Now, Charlie was engaged to a sweet girl named Penny. Penny was sweet, and worked as a clerk in a shoe-store, but she was not terribly bright. Big Barry Manilow fan. Need I say more? I didn't think so. Anyway, it hadn't seemed to be an issue for Charlie, as he and Penny had been dating for seven years at that point.

Seven. Years. Which was FOREVER at our ages. They had just bought a house and had set the date and were making plans for the wedding. And they both seemed to be happy.

For the record, Roy was single (and not seeing anyone), Alphie had recently married (but already it wasn't going well and he'd divorce VERY shortly thereafter), and Mack had been dating this very attractive girl (Marla), whom we all got to meet at Alphie's wedding reception (the guys in the group were all drooling, it was a spectacle) and the two of them had just recently moved in together.

So, as we stood there looking at Charlie, the following exchange began...

CHARLIE: HI! (nervously)

BARON: Hi. What's up?

CHARLIE: NOTHING! (still nervous)

BARON: We were just out riding the bike and decided to stop in. SuperFiancee' had never been here before.

CHARLIE: WOW! REALLY? (talking way too loudly and way too quickly)

ME: Yeah. It's really pretty. Is Penny with you?

CHARLIE: NO. NO. Penny had to work today.

And then there was dead silence, as he didn't know what to say and we really wanted to go past him to the wall. As Baron had explained, you could see to the highway in that direction. Charlie had to have sensed that we wanted to go past, but he didn't yield. It was quite strange. And so, Baron proceeded,

BARON: We're gonna look at the highway, Charlie.

As we started around him, some movement to the left registered in my peripheral vision field. There, behind the bush (the one from which Charlie had so recently vaulted), was Marla. I got the distinct impression she hadn't been dressed long, and she bore that same bug-eyed, terror-stricken expression that Charlie had.

Oooooh. This was juicy.


I didn't say anything. Or even grin. We said our 'hello's' and then Charlie began...

CHARLIE: Marla and I just came up here to look around. Since Penny and Mack were both at work and all and we had some free time. Penny knows about it and all.

Uh huh. Purely innocent.

BARON: Sure. Yeah.

Not much more dialogue passed between us, but I was dying to laugh out loud. I'd assumed that Baron would, too, but he didn't even get what was going on.

We finished looking around, said our 'goodbye's' and headed to the parking area. As soon as we got to the motorcycle, I couldn't hold it any longer and doubled over laughing. Baron asked what was so funny. I explained to him what Charlie and Marla had been up to, but he refused to believe it.

"No way! Charlie wouldn't do that!", he said rather emphatically.

"Oh, yes. And I'll guarantee you'll be getting a call from Charlie tonight."

"What? Why?"

"Asking you not to mention what you saw today to Penny." (I dared not explain myself by telling him that I had the power to see into the future.)

"You're too suspicious and always thinking the worst of people."

Baron continued to scoff, but I'm a fairly good judge of character (with a very few notable exceptions), and it was sooooo clear what was going on. Smug in my convictions, we headed back to his place, where I whipped us up some dinner and we hung around with his roommate, Roy.

Now, readers, you are NOT going to believe this, but at about 9:00 there was a knock at the door.

"That's Charlie.", I said. Baron rolled his eyes dismissively, unaware of my newfound ability to foretell the future, and opened the door.

His expression had changed rather dramatically since the last time we'd seen him, several hours earlier, but it was unmistakeably Charlie. Baron bade him enter and then gave me a look. A look that said I should keep my mouth shut. It was completely unnecessary, though, as I was most interested in listening.

Charlie, however, had other ideas. He was interested in a more private discussion with Baron, so they stepped out to the porch.

Where I couldn't hear.


In any event, he didn't stay long and when Baron came back into the house, I asked what Charlie had said.

"He asked me not to say anything about what I'd seen today to Penny."

Imagine that...;)

"And he asked me to ask you not to say anything either."

"Are you?"

"He's my friend."

"So is Penny. And so is Mack. It's not my place, so I won't say anything. You don't have to ask me. On the other hand, you've known Mack as long as you've known Charlie. Longer even. I guess you'll decide how you want to proceed."

Of course, Baron did nothing. I could have foretold that, as well. And within a couple weeks, when Penny found out about the affair elsewhere, and the nuclear exposions began throughout our little microcosm, nothing was ever the same again. I suppose, had Baron told Mack...or Penny...the results would have been virtually the same.

Mack and Charlie have never patched up their friendship since then (and didn't even speak to each other for many years). Marla moved out of Mack's house immediately. Penny and Charlie never married. The house that Charlie and Penny had bought together became Charlie and Marla's, as they married shortly thereafter. Mack, who is one of the nicest guys you would EVER want to meet, was heartbroken and took a long, long time to get over the pain and betrayal. Penny was comforted after the break-up by one of the fringe members of the group, Will, and they later married. Still are married, to my knowledge, and they have one son. Charlie and Marla couldn't have children, which was a devastating blow to Charlie (who'd badly wanted a large family) and eventually they adopted a daughter. Marla then cheated on Charlie, they divorced and Charlie picked up a coke habit that cost him a business that had been in his family for decades.

You know, I can still feel exactly the feelings I had when I KNEW that Charlie and Marla had been slipping around. The intensity of that discovery was overwhelming. I suppose something I've learned, since then, is that how you treat your friendships is a mark of your character. Is keeping a trust for one friend more important than disspelling a lie to another? Is asking a friend to keep such a secret fair to the friend? Twenty years later, I still don't know for sure. I still believe, though, that Mack's friend should have told him. Sometimes, I think maybe I should have, though Mack and I didn't become good friends until after the break-up when he needed me more...and years later when I needed him more.

When Will found out that Baron had known about all of this weeks before Penny found out, he was furious with Baron for not telling her. It cost Baron his friendship with Will.

Baron was able, on some level, to maintain his friendships with both Charlie and Mack (difficult, because Mack refused to be around Charlie), though things with Charlie were never as close as they had been. When Baron and I got married (about 3 years later), I insisted that Mack be invited to the wedding instead of Charlie.

I suppose it's all part of "life goes on" and "everybody makes mistakes" and "it wasn't meant to be", but for me, anyway, I'll never forget Charlie bounding from that bush and the look on his face when he did.

Talk about 'priceless'.


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At least Four Hundred Words...

I'm still working on a Flashback Friday! this morning, but, in the meantime, I've run across several photography links of interest lately and wanted to share them. Sooooo, in the meantime, I'm hoping they are worth enough words to buy me a little more time on this weeks' Flash! I'll be back as soon as I can. Honest Injun!

Some nice photos of non-celebrity look-a-likes. One American. One European. No relation to each other. Some of them are pretty uncanny. The site is pretty slow, though.


He said "jump"...and they said "how high"...and then he took their picture. Some unusual photographs by Latvian Philippe Halsman. Jerry Lewis you could expect, but Richard Nixon? Yeah, Baby.

Action Figure Photography

My ex used to spend a great deal of time setting up Hotwheels outside and photographing them in an attempt to make them look like a full-sized vehicle. Some attempts were more successful than others. Edward Lee does something similar with action figures. Some of them with rather amazing skill.

Tabloid Photos from the 30's/40's/50's

These photos (and captions) from tabloids dating from the mid-30's until 1961 give you a little window into the seamy side of history. Like the woman who asked someone for money and when he didn't give it to her, she killed him. Or the man (hiding his face in the photo) arrested while wearing women's clothing...big news back then.

Lords of Logistics

Some pretty improbable things. Most of them done on two wheels.

Worth 1000

Photoshopping celebrity mugshots. Okay, I can see some fun to be had here...

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eat Them Up, YUM!


Remember this really wacked out video/song? Barnes & Barnes is credited with the catchy toe-tapper, but what always got me was that half of Barnes and Barnes was Billy Mumy of "Lost in Space" (TV) fame. Who knew Will Robinson was a freak???

It's especially amusing to me, since my youngest darling daughter used to dig on the song and dance and sing along when she was about 2. Somehow, it is now forever tied in my mind to hearing that little cherubic voice singing "FishHeads, FishHeads, roly, poly FishHeads...", and that (for whatever reason) makes me smile...

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Hard to 'Pic'...

which pic I like I'm sharing both!

A couple more vacation photos I HAD to post, compliments of Highlander's mum and stepdad.

Above is Adorable Baby Ben being held by Adorable Highlander, and on the right is Princess K and Princess 'Kid 3'. (I had wisely packed a couple of Kid 3's dress up outfits for our trip, and the two girls had a ball playing with them.)

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So you think YOU had a bad day?

While it's not quite an OSHA Fatal Fact, after hearing about this construction-related story I was going "OW!" in a big way!

(Not to mention feeling pretty damned lucky about my lot. I mean, hey, no matter how rough it gets around here sometimes, it's not like I've nailed any body parts to a roof or anything. I'm just saying...)

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Monday, October 16, 2006

A Few For Highlander

That's right.

More You Tube.

Bwa Ha Ha Ha Ha......

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Finally, A Travelogue Post!

Most of my regular readers, have probably already seen the pics and read the haps of our recent vacation over at Highlander's place. In case you haven't, go there first. I'll wait riiiiiiight here until you get back. If you want to dally a bit while you're there, that's okay. He's got some interesting stuff up right now. Especially the political stuff.

Now, while I won't do it better, I'll probably go into more detail. Since you started there first, I'll try to keep the redundancy minimal. I know you'll cut me slack if I babble. At least, you usually do, as I've grown accustomed to the long-suffering sigh and near-constant eye-rolling that accompany your exhausted patience with me.

I'm gonna start at the VERY beginning. That would be the incredibly long drive south in the wrong rental car. Our map indicated that it would be over thirteen hours, but that included no stops. We knew we'd be stopping for food and gas and bathroom breaks along the way, so we were hoping to keep it around fifteen hours each way. While we all get along exceptionally well, that length of time in a confined space certainly will test the limits. That didn't seem to be the problem, though. Likely because we got the wrong rental car.

We'd reserved this car, but when I showed up to get it, they didn't have one available and substituted with this car. For those unintiated (and I'm in that group most of the time) with car stuff, the biggest difference is that the first car has less passenger room, but more luggage space. The second car has more passenger room, but less luggage space. We'd packed anticipating having more space and, well, it was tricky. In the end, though, I think having more space to spread out on such a long trip, made it far more feasible. An extra driver would have made it even moreso, but plenty of Mountain Dew and several breaks did enough.

The long drive down was punctuated with some rain before we were out of Kentucky, a couple of traffic snarls that had traffic completely stopped in Tennessee, delays due to roadwork in Nashville (the land of ETERNAL roadwork), and worst of all, because of the aforementioned delays, hitting Atlanta at 4:30PM. Gads!! It took us about an hour and forty five minutes to get through Hotlanta, and we were ALL tired of it by the time we got on the other side.

I had emailed Highlander's mum that we'd be arriving late. Very late. But the thought of navigating the backwoods in the dark was not appealling to me at all. Consequently, she volunteered her husband to meet us at the main road and lead us in...through the myriad of unpaved their very lovely home.

And he did.

We unloaded the car, put on our jammies and said goodnight.

And that was Thursday.

After spending so much time on the road on Thursday, we opted for a quiet day around Casa Highlander's Mum on Friday. Splashing in their pool and a brief trip to a produce market to pick up a few things for supper were the highlights. While Sunday was supposed to be the day that all the family was coming to meet Highlander's fiancee' and her children, some of them simply couldn't wait. Can you blame them?

On Friday, one of Highlander's aunts (who lives very nearby his mum) and her son dropped by for coffee. Later, her daughter and her two children (who became immediate playmates for Kid #3...evidence on the right) stopped over for a sneak preview. They were all very kind and welcoming to me and the kids, which was greatly appreciated.

Then later, Highlander's mum served up a delectable meal of glazed ham, homemade yeast rolls, salad, and steamed broccoli and cauliflour. Yummy!! She had also baked a couple loaves of white bread, which made some excellent toast the next morning.

The Friday evening festivities involved me mentioning to Highlander that I thought the kids would enjoy some karaoke and that I'd love to hear his mum sing (something that Highlander had raved about many, many times before and about which his glowing review turned out to be entirely accurate).

Being who he is, Highlander arranged it all and, before I knew it, I was singing the Eagles "Take it to the Limit" (badly). The kids were LOVING it. (Not my singing, the karaoke.)

Highlander's mum & stepdad have some great home equipment (the stuff that separates the hardcore Karaoke singers from the fluff) and TONS of selections on cd. Even Kid #3 got to belt out a little "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" (the last of which had EVERYONE singing along).

Before the evening was over I had butchered Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee" and the Allman Brothers' "Ramblin' Man" (a personal favorite) mostly because I refuse to leave well enough alone, but also because of the constant begging of my adoring fans (aka, Highlander and my kids).

Because he knows I love the song, Highlander did a dedication number to me by singing Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" that put a lump in my throat. I always choke up when a man sings to me. Gets me every time. This may the first time it's happened without the inducement of alcohol, though. Nice touch, H.

Saturday plans were to pack a picnic lunch and head to a nearby beach and then to wander around in St. Augustine. And so, on Saturday morning, we took some of that yummy freshly baked bread and some of that delicious left-over glazed ham, and made sandwiches, grabbed a couple bags of chips, filled the cooler with drinks and hit the road.

It was about a 40 minute drive to the ocean, and though the day was a little gray, it was warm and inviting there. Unlike other oceanfront property I've seen, this beach wasn't garnished with expensive vacation homes. There were some modest cabins dotting the beach, but they did not detract from the natural beauty that the sand and surf had to offer. This was what was called an "old Florida beach". One that hadn't yet succumbed to mass commercialization. I felt very lucky to have seen it that way.

Several locals were out enjoying the last of the season, but it wasn't difficult for us to find a large area to set up some chairs and our cooler. Kid #3 and I walked along the edge of the water, letting the surf run over our feet. The waves were pretty big and I wasn't anxious for her to try to do much more than wet her toes in the Atlantic. The older two were eager to head out a ways and play in the waves, and shucked off their outerwear and took off...after I'd slathered them all with sunscreen.

Kid #3 had borrowed some sand toys and was setting up construction on the beach. And I sat in one of the fold-out chairs and took it all in. The calm, the sounds, the smells of being at the beach. Highlander played in the water a little and took over photography duties, and, unfortunately, wound up with a pretty tender sunburn.

When she'd tired of sandcastles, and her sisters had come in for a respite, the girls and I wandered the beach collecting seashells, many of which made it home with us.

A little later, when Kid #3 wanted to play in the ocean a little, it was Highlander who took her in. You see, I've got a 'thing' about swimming. If one of my kids were in danger, I'd put aside my phobia and be in there immediately. I know I would. But...well...if not, I'm not getting in any water where fish live. And that's that.

Swimming pools are one thing. Oceans, lakes, ponds, creeks, and the like, they give me the heebie jeebies. The thought of a fish brushing my leg or algae touching me, well, it freaks me out. I suppose it's because of the surprise factor and that you don't know what it is down there touching you. Used to be less of a thing for me before 1975...and that movie...

After leaving the beach, we headed about ten miles away to St. Augustine to explore "old city". With impressive Flagler College and Fort Matanzas in view (and both in easy walking distance), Old City (the oldest city in the US, btw) has a wonderful (if more than a little touristy) feel. You look at the buildings and the history just radiates from them. With my construction background, I was impressed when I saw old mud foundations reinforced with seashells, a huge mill wheel, and wooden beams that were hundreds of years old. The main thing about Old City is that it is dotted with tons of little shops and eateries.

While I could have enjoyed spending the day doing nothing but checking all of them out, alas, Highlander was wearing a pair of new sandals that were working some rather nasty blisters onto his feet (on top of the sunburn he'd picked up earlier in the day) and we had MORE early family stopping by after dinner, so we decided to call it a day. Highlander's mum suggested stopping at a grocery on the way back and picking up some pre-cooked chicken. While that didn't sound bad to me, I was feeling energetic enough and wanted to try to take some of the burden off (especially since I love to do it), so I volunteered to cook.

We had to stop at the grocery anyway, because we needed some supplies for the cookout on Sunday, so instead of the rotisserie chicken, I picked up stuff to throw together a pan of lasagna and make some garlic bread. There was plenty of leftover salad from the night before and that seemed to me to be an easy meal that would feed whomever else showed up if need be.

As it turned out, Highlander's cousin (who had stopped by on Friday with her kids) brought her hubby and kids in tow, along with another cousin and her hubby, and another Aunt and her hubby and Highlander's baby brother and his family (including the sweet-natured, adorable baby Ben pictured to the left). And honestly, I felt right at home.

Having grown up with a very large extended family(my dad has 8 sibs, my mom has 5), these types of things feel oddly comfortable to me. Everyone was eating and the little kids were playing (or swimming in the pool) and the karaoke equipment came out and everyone started singing and it was the most homey feeling. I gotta say it was also pretty cool to meet some people I've heard/read about for years and years. Most specifically Highlander's youngest brother and momma. Those of you who have been reading Highlander's blogs for years are hearing the dramatic music playing already. Let me just say that Paul was very quiet, has a lovely singing voice, and clearly adores the woman in his life. His paramour, Dawn, was cordial and pleasant and on her very best behavior for the entire weekend.

Paul, Dawn (Are you dying to see them? I was! Here's a photo.) and Ben spent the night (rather than make the 2 hour journey back to Zephyrhills) and when Sunday morning came, I made a breakfast of scrambled eggs and french toast for anyone willing to risk it, while Highlander's mum mixed up two BIG crockpots of chili and got things ready for the cookout later in the day. After breakfast, I made a platter of cheese and crackers for folks to nosh on during the football game and some con queso dip and tortilla chips as well. And so started the parade of the rest of the (semi) local family.

Highlander's brother Patrick and his family, Highlander's grandmother (who admonished me that there was no reasonable explanation for not marrying), all the various players who'd been there the day before, and another cousin (whom I'd met before) and his family. There were roughly thirty of us in all. And just as these things go in my own family, various factions split off. Several people watching the football game, others visiting on the front porch, the back porch, people grilling hot dogs and brats, people putting together various other food (including potato salad, cornbread, peanut butter cake, banana cream pies, fruit and dip, and a cookie pizza).

There was then more karaoke and various games (Magic the Gathering, some Ping, War! and a boardgame of some type) here and there and then, when the night finally fell, a fire was lit and we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores.

The little ones were even knocking back a couple of cold ones, just like the old folks. It was a full day to be sure!

On Monday, Highlander, the girls and I headed to Silver Springs. A theme park of sorts, specializing primarily in nature exhibits. Lots to see there, including plenty of gators.

We opted to visit on a Monday (and off season) and it paid off big! While there were plenty of people there, there were no lines for any of the attractions and we had an easy time seeing and doing anything and everything we wanted. (The only drawback was the park closing at 5PM!! We got there around noon and despite the ease in seeing things missed a few attractions because the park was closing.)

The main feature is the springs themselves and glass bottom boat tours allow you to see all the way to the bottom of springs that are (in some instances) 20+ feet deep. It's amazing how clear the water is. Plenty of fish and turtles and alligators to see everywhere. We took two different glass bottom boat tours.

In addition to a non-venomous reptile show, we also took a safari jeep tour that revealed that wonder of wonders, the very tree that Johnny Weissmuller used to swing from as he did that infamous jungle call back in the 1940's.

Besides Tarzan history, Silver Springs played host to quite a few film and tv companies. "I Spy" (with Bill Cosby and Robert Culp) filmed a few episodes there, Steve Irwin did two specials there, 122 episodes of "Sea Hunt", THE YEARLING (starring Gregory Peck) and THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, among others.

During the safari jeep ride, we saw some kodiak bears. After the ride, we were able to see a display like the one pictured and it reminded me that the animals in our local zoo NEVER do this stuff. Of course, as we strolled through the big cat exhibit and heard the ruckus there, it reminded me we NEVER see the animals getting busy there, either.

Before we left, we rode the lighthouse ride and the carousel and had our picture taken in the center of the horseshoe palmtree by a very helpful park employee. Having your photo taken in the center of the tree is supposed to bring you five years of luck. Wonder what it means that the picture wasn't able to be developed?

We had planned to grab some dinner while we were out, but there were no restaurants to speak of between the park and Highlander's mum's place, so we decided to pick up something and cook it when we got back. As Highlander had gotten raves from his Philly steak sandwiches when he'd cooked them up for his mom and her hubby before, he suggested getting the fixins for that. I grabbed a few things to throw together a green bean casserole and some strawberries and raspberries, shortcakes and whipped cream for an easy dessert.

After cooking up a scrumptuous dinner, Highlander and I and the kids started repacking our chattel (which in the few days we'd been there had been scattered over the entire house!) and loading the car. We had planned to get up at 5AM, grab a quick breakfast, load the few remaining items in the car and head out.

The return trip was early and considerably more uneventful. We made it through Atlanta in 20 minutes and hit nary a snarl or weather delay on the way home. The scenery (with the onset of autumn) coming back through the Smokies was nothing short of spectacular and I found myself pointing out gorgeous views left and right while Highlander was trying to finish his latest SM Stirling novel (a very gracious gift from the author himself).

Another exhausting drive behind me, we unloaded the car and got everyone ready for bed. It really was a very nice visit. Highlander's entire family embraced and welcomed me and the girls and made us all feel very much a part of them. Kid #2 remarked after our trip that it had been so much more comfortable for her (and relaxing and fun) than any vacation in recent history. In fact, all the kids seemed to have a pleasant trip. As with any vacation though, while you leave full of promise and adventure, you return pleased to be home.

Now onto getting Halloween costumes and decorations readied and gearing up for the holidays/birthdays between now and the end of the year.

Sorry for the delay getting this down for you guys (and for the length of it once I did), it's been quite busy around here and I just haven't found much time for the computer.

Let me know what you've been up to whilst I've been away...

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Let's Be Careful Out There!

In case you missed it on your calendar, today is Friday the 13th. Most of my regular readers need not worry, but there are a couple out there who may want to boost their karma a little today. I thought I'd share a good idea to help in that regard. (Since there's no Flashback Friday! today, it's the least I can do. The very least, actually.)

Operation Paperback is a non-profit organization that collects and ships gently used books to U.S. troops overseas. If you have any second-hand books lying around, it's a very worthy cause. And it's certainly a good way to support the troops without supporting the war...especially since everyone I know has a book or two lying around that they could send. In fact, you don't even have to do it because it's Friday the 13th.

For a little history on the significance of Friday the 13th, try this link. While I'm not the superstitious type, it does give me just a tweak to know that the Friday the 13th that started this ball rolling was an October 13th. Though I can say (with no hesitation) that I've never fallen prey to a Friday the 13th mishap. ::furiously rubbing lucky rabbit's foot while knocking on wood::

I used to have some friends who religiously watched FRIDAY THE 13TH (or any of it's derivatives) on those certain dates. Generally speaking, there was some alcohol involved.

According to their schedule, HBO doesn't plan to cooperate until after midnight. Consequently, you may have to rely on your local broadcasting to help you out here. Or, you know, Blockbuster or Hollywood Video may be able to help you out. I've only ever seen the first two and was amazed to learn that despite #4 being the "Final Chapter", there are now TEN movies in this franchise.

For those of you thumbing your nose at such things, you can send a Friday the 13th e-card via this link.

Of course, this could all be the build up for the biggest Friday the 13th of all. In which case, hiding in bed all day won't do you a damn bit of good.

Try to have a fun day, now. But, seriously, let's be careful out there...

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Home Again, Home Again...

jiggety jig...

Cross my heart, I've got pictures. Highlander is working on them and I'll try to post a few in the next day or so.

It was a lovely vacation (thanks, H, for bankrolling this extended're the best, Baby) and I'll go into more details when I have the accompanying pics. Not that I'm rushing anyone...::rolling my eyes::

In the meantime, a few "firsts" this trip...

* Driving through Atlanta, GA at rush hour. (This one is also a "last".) I'd heard tales, but had never experienced it firsthand. ::shiver::

* Highlander touching an alligator. (He passed on the snake, though.)

* Karaoke for the Superkids and me. Yeah, okay, I've been known to mock it, but I've never done it myself. In the privacy of Highlander's mum's house, with some upscale equipment, it was kinda fun. The kids (including Superadorable Kid) had LOTS of fun with it.

* Meeting two of Highlander's three brothers last Sunday. Highlander, as the eldest, is #1. I got to meet #3 and #4. Both very sweet guys who clearly love their big brother. Brother #3 hugged me when he left on Sunday evening and literally "blessed" me for taking on the challenge that is Highlander. Funny, but true. Brother #4 thanked me profusely for making his brother so happy. (Lucky for me the only family member to bully me at all about getting married was Grandma.) It was a real treat to meet a great lot of Highlander's family, but I had long wanted to meet his brothers and I was very delighted to get at least two thirds of that. I'm thinking H and I may have to fly to Maine to complete this mission. Wish me luck on that plan...;)

I had a most delightful time (which always keeps the old sphygmomanometer happy), but it is good to be home...

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Something for the Birthday Boy!

It's all about you, Nate (aka/AaA). Happy Birthday!!

I know how much you'd like to wake up to a little 'Tang this morning. Hope it worked out for you.

Ah, so refreshing!

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Wish You Were Here!

Having a wonderful time! Miss you guys!!

Getting here was a little tricky...

The State of Georgia (in addition to making my fiance's life Hell at work) really stinks! My apologies to those of you with a heritage in the peach state, but more dead skunks and cow manure per square mile than any state in the union. I'm SURE of it. Stinky, stinky, stinky!

And what the hell is up with Tifton, Georgia? I mean, really. They have some kind of mind-control shit going on that makes Stepford look tame. Billboards EVERYWHERE that demand that you "Think Tifton!". Why???? What is going on in Tifton?!?!?!? Worse. Why are they still on my mind?

Heading to the beach and St. Augustine tomorrow and a HUGE family pool/Bucs game party on Sunday!! This is the life!!

I'll try to snap a pic or two for you, YGF, but doubt anything like that will be posted prior to our return.

See you soon!

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Thursday, October 05, 2006


See ya in a week!

Stay out of trouble!!

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Out of Blog-fice Message

A much too short note to let anyone who happens to wander through know that this blog will be mouselike in it's quietude for the next week (or actually a little more). If some miracle happens before Thursday and I can get back around here to hang a post, I will. Otherwise, it'll be a while. (Oh, wait...check back on the weekend...I have something I need to try to stick on here...)

Rest assured that my parents' renuptials and following party went well, and they were very pleased (which is the most important part of it all anyway, right?). And now, last minute vacation plans and rushing to get a week and a half's worth of work done in three days is consuming me, along with the regular stuff around my house, of course.

Have a good one! I'll miss you guys!! Heh. Maybe I'll send you a postcard!

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